Michael Smith continues to underwhelm and is unlikely to make the Premier League darts play-offs, according to official PDC statistical analyst Christopher Kempf (@ochepedia).
St Helens-based ‘Bully Boy’ has won just five games, and lost 10 in a dismal Premier League campaign so far.
Quarter-final losses to eventual winners Peter Wright, Jonny Clayton and Gerwyn Price, left him bottom on zero points after week three.
His first win came in the fourth week as he edged Joe Cullen to a 6-5 victory in the quarter-finals, but was defeated comfortably by Michael Van Gerwen in the semi-finals.
Successive finals followed but Smith would lose out to Van Gerwen and Gary Anderson.
Bully Boy was eliminated in the quarter-finals for the next four weeks by Van Gerwen, Clayton, Wright and Cullen respectively.
Kempf cannot see Smith gaining enough points to secure a play-off berth.
Do the stats support Kempf’s claims that he is underwhelming or has he just been unlucky?
Play-off struggle for Smith?
Firstly, it is true Smith will struggle to gather enough points to make the play-offs with just six rounds left.
He sits in seventh place with just eight points, ten points behind fourth placed James Wade.
With five points awarded to the winner, three to the runner-up and two to the semi-finalists each night, it would take a miracle for him to progress to the finals in Berlin.
Does he have a leg to stand on?
‘Bully boy’ has won 59 legs but lost 73 leaving him with the worst leg difference in the competition (-14).
This is considerably less than Van Gerwen’s +30 leg difference, or even Clayton’s +7, and would suggest Smith has been the worst player in the competition if solely judging from this metric.
Kempf does not place that much importance of leg difference however.
“The leg difference is not so important – it matters little in the Premier League table whether you lose 5-6 or 0-6,” he said.
The law of averages?
The visual below shows the weekly averages of Smith, it suggests that he was consistently improving in the first three weeks before fluctuating massively.
Even in the weeks where he reached the final, his averages were just 97.02 and 96.82 compared to a campaign best of 103.55 in week three.
He has certainly not hit the heights he did during the World Championship, when his best average was 106.32.
His tournament average was 100.65 but his Premier League average so far is just 96.12.
That leaves him fifth behind Van Gerwen, Clayton, Wright and Price.
However, Kempf argues that weekly averages based on 10 legs are not a solid indicator of form.
“What would be interesting is if those averages had been recorded over 100 legs each week- then we could make a more definitive statement about Smith’s overall performance from Thursday to Thursday,” he said.
Saving grace for Smith?
After breaking the record for the most 180s in a single World Championships (83), Smith has produced just 42 in ten weeks so far.
This leaves him fifth overall for 180s this season, however he ranks second for 180s per leg with 0.318.
Another area where Smith excels according to the data is checkouts.
His checkout rate of 40.69%, can only be bettered by Gary Anderson (42.40%) and James Wade (43.81%).
Kempf is not surprised that ‘Bully Boy’ is producing these numbers when it comes to 180s and checkouts.
He said: “We know Smith can hit lots of 180s and average 105+ from time to time. It is not news when he does this. He is a player with a talent unmatched by all but a few.
“The fact that Smith is 3rd in doubles % indicates that he is either not getting enough darts at double in total, or that he’s missing them when it really matters.
“Either would be troubling for a player in his situation.”
The stats suggest that the PDC Championship runner-up has neither been underwhelming or unlucky.
For Kempf, the data does not suggest that he is performing better or worse than his usual form.
With Smith’s talent and experience in the professional ranks, at the very least he should be in contention.
Therefore, in that respect, it has been a campaign that has failed to live up to expectation but no one will be more disappointed that Smith himself.
(Statistics from Sportradar, the official stats partner of the PDC)
(Featured image- Taylor Lanning/PDC- with permission)